Back to School with a Growth Mindset

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“There is a difference between not knowing and not knowing YET” ~Sheila Tobias

Welcome back to what I hope will be a positive school year for everyone. I have collected some posts that I think will help you make this year of learning in your classroom memorable for you and your students.

First off is a post from esteemed educator, George Couros titled, 5 Questions to Ask Your Students to Start the School Year, one of them being, “What are your strengths and how can we utilize them?” In his post he emphasizes how the impact our experiences with our students helps shape their thoughts and reflections and memories of school. Coming off our school’s recent Positive Psychology/Positive Education retreat, we know that positive psychology is about recognizing that “Other People Matter” and if we keep this at the forefront of our mind, we can hope to positively shape and influence our students’ experiences for the better. This involves how we listen to, respond, speak to, and engage with our students. To see the rest of the questions Couros suggests, click here.

The next is from Khan Academy and it ties in with positive psychology’s emphasis on Growth Mindset. Khan Academy has partnered with PERTS, a Stanford-based research group that includes Carol Dweck, Joe Boaler and others. They have created a series of lessons on growth mindset for students ranging from third through twelfth grade as part of their LearnStorm activities (What is Learnstorm- watch here). Within each of the six growth mindset activities, you will find readings, videos, reflection prompts, and more. You can do the activities one per week over six weeks, or whatever works for your classroom. For more information on how a third grade teacher used the lessons with his classroom, you can watch this recording.

I have posted about this next tool before here and here, but with so many new features as well as the opportunities it affords to learn your students’ stories, thoughts, reflections, and connect with others around the world, it bears mentioning again. Flipgrid is the easiest way to have your students create video responses to your prompts which with the wide array of amazing new features (yes, I have said it again because they are really that great) includes text, video, image, or uploaded document prompts.

The final share is a two-part post on bell-ringer activities from Matt Miller of DITCH Textbook fame. I have previously written about him here and here and several other mentions. In his two-part post he offers 20 digital ways to kick off your class and hook your students into each learning experience to make their learning memorable. Some of my favorite ideas are the QR code on the board, a What If Flipgrid , tweeting for someone, blackout poetry, and s- (to see the rest and figure out what I was about to say, visit 10 digital bell-ringer activities to kickstart class and 10 MORE digital bell ringer activities to kickstart class.

Photo credit: Foter.com

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Choice, Voice, & Assessment

This week there is a lot to share so I am going to jump right in and get started.

Read and Write Choice Board While many of you have your students reading and writing, how often are you letting your students make choices about how they are going to share their understanding of what they have read? This Choice Board offers nine tech tools/apps students that allow you to differentiate for your learners.

This next one is a BAM Radio podcast, “The Most Practical Ways to Get Students to Lead Their Learning” with Larry Ferlazzo, Yvette Jackson, Veronica McDermott, Rebecca Mieliwocki, and Gallit Zvi. This podcast speaks about using options like Genius Hour for bridging the gap between a student’s passion and the expectation for learning, and learning about students’ interests by asking them this question,

“If you didn’t have to be in school, what would you be doing?”

Alan November is an absolute favorite of mine as you probably know if you have been reading my posts. These next two shares are from his most recent articles Assessment for Learning  and Digital Citizenship Lessons from a 9-Year-Old With 18,000 Twitter Followers. In Assessment for Learning November asks,

“What if we could empower our teachers to turn assessment into a process of learning instead of a focus on measurement?”

He shares examples from Harvard down through middle school where the teachers and professors allowed their students to take assessments twice. Depending on the classroom example, teachers either had their students take the assessments on their own first and then take it again in small groups where they could work together and discuss how they arrived at an answer; or they take it in groups first, learn from each other, then take a similar assessment on their own. I think you will want to try this innovative way of assessing in your classrooms too.

In Digital Citizenship Lessons from a 9-Year-Old you will learn about Olivia Van Ledtje’s love of reading and how she shares that love and passion through her vlogs (video blog posts) and more recently, her Twitter account @thelivbits. You and your students should check out what she is doing and think about how they could share their interests too.

George Couros is another favorite educator who recently shared this post, “What Could Go Right?” Often times we are in situations or conversations with colleagues or students and coming up with a laundry list of reasons why this idea or suggestion will not work. We listen to the negatives that are shouting at us in the background- or even the ones who are speaking to them out loud- instead of thinking, what could go right. Couros posits,

“We need to make the positives so loud that the negative becomes almost impossible to hear.”

Many teachers love using Kahoot! for formative assessment and review, but how many are using it to teach or introduce new content? DITCH That Textbook’s Matt Miller explains exactly how to go about this in his post, “Teach With Kahoot!: Go beyond review with the Blind Kahoot! What is a Blind Kahoot! you ask? Check out this video (which you will also find in Matt’s blog post).

Lastly, I recently started using Flipgrid and participated in the first #FlipgridFever chat on Twitter this past week. “What is Flipgrid,” you ask? You can check out a recent post. There were so many great ideas being shared including using Flipgrid to practice a target language and connect with other classrooms around the world using their global grid connections. Teachers, get ready to make those student voices heard!

For more great articles, videos, and posts, check out this week’s Shipley PLN Lower & Middle School Edition.